Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Star Versus - Competitive Space Shooter for the NES - Production

I've been working on an NES development board with a custom mapper (1MB ROM / 32KB banking CHR-RAM with a scanline counter).  I've been using them for various projects over the past year but never imagined that it would be used for a full fledged game.

Here is Star Versus, an incredibly fun competitive shooter created by Dustin Long who has been intensely working on the project for the past couple of years.

The first PCB design worked out great - no gerber changes between the prototype and production! Physical dimensions were a concern but they fit in the case beautifully and the in circuit programming scheme worked without a hitch.

We switched to a lead-free process once we realized we'd be making more than a hundred units. Dealing with the higher temperatures is difficult but I'm actually amazed with the quality of the reflow / solder joints (Chipquik SAC 305 no clean).

Batched out 10 at a time in the reflow oven.

A set of 100 tested and ready to go.

We switched from a pedal controller solder paste applicator to a stencil for this run - the difference is incredible.  I don't regret doing the first 100 that way, I had figured unless they were panelized it wouldn't be worth it but even with a single board it paid for itself in no time.

Third run of carts.

Infinite thanks to tireless technicians Nick Gargiulo and John Wisneski.


  1. Oh wow, that looks like so much fun to be a part of. Great work on a mass production like that.

    Why did you choose a PLCC for the mapper? Easier to program without headers on the NES board?